06/28/2013 3:55PM

Ontario Horse Racing Transition Panel releases latest plan

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – On Friday, the Ontario government’s Horse Racing Transition Panel released a draft of its latest plan for a sustainable horse racing industry in the province.

The panel, composed of former Ontario cabinet ministers Elmer Buchanan, John Snobelen, and John Wilkinson, had released a report to the province’s Liberal government last fall which led to most Ontario’s racetracks receiving transitional funding to help them cope with the loss of revenue from the slots at racetracks program, which ended March 31, 2013.

The current plan suggests that future public funding for horse racing should be based on a dollar-for-dollar match with the industry commission on live pari-mutuel wagering in the province. A formula aligned with revenues from exports of live racing in the province also has been proposed, but there would be no government funding aligned to Ontario wagering on foreign products.

The panel also recommends the creation of a “new market-driven central body,” which would be named Ontario Live Racing. That proposed group would consolidate all industry revenues and share them among industry partners on the basis of consumer demand for live racing.

Commissions would be directed to Ontario Live Racing, which also would take charge of the savings from Ontario’s pari-mutuel tax reduction.

Other proposals included the implementation of racing-themed lotteries and other gaming products, in conjunction with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, and a change in direction in the province’s Horse Improvement Program, which would de-emphasize financial support for Ontario-bred and Ontario-sired horses.

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association did not release an official response to the report as the organization will be receiving and reviewing industry responses and participating fully in the consultative process set forth by the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel for the early part of July.

Public meetings will be held from 1-4 p.m. on July 8 at London’s Western Fair Raceway, July 9 at Woodbine, July 10 at Ajax Downs, and July 11 at Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa.

Registration is available by phone at (877) 424-1300, by e-mail at horseracingtransition@ontario.ca, or online at Ontario/ca/horseracingtransition.